Fusing Argentium Silver ~ I’m A Beginner

There is some sort of wonderful satisfaction in successfully manipulating metals – both in cold forging, and under heat, I find great pleasure and yes, JOY, in creating beautiful (or not?) works of wearable? art by bending, hammering, twisting, wrapping, and now fusing an otherwise seemingly rigid and inflexible material: metal. I started out, as most of you know, with copper. I think copper is probably the universal beginner’s metal – it is (or was) quite affordable, which lent comfort to the beginner in the case that a design was unsuccessful. Copper has, however, become quite popular in jewelry, even for advanced artisans. Our clientele seem to love copper jewelry, preferring the more affordable prices as well as the earthy and warm tones it’s natural and aged finishes give.  I personally love copper jewelry, and wear my own designs almost exclusively! 

Today, however, I’m not here to rave about copper…..I want to share with you my new found love and addiction to Argentium silver! My source for Argentium silver is riogrande.com – a fabulous supplier of high quality jewelry supplies, tools, metal, and wire. They state that their Argentium wire is:  Made with a touch of germanium, Argentium® Silver presents a bright white color that is closer to fine silver than traditional sterling, yet is highly resistant to firescale and extremely slow to tarnish under most conditions. With 93.5% pure silver, Argentium meets the legal standard to be quality-marked as sterling silver. All Argentium is made from reclaimed silver and its sources are guaranteed by Argentium International Ltd. The unique properties of Argentium make this metal a dream to work with. It welds flawlessly and is ideal for fusing techniques. It offers excellent formability in its soft state and will work harden beautifully to create jewelry pieces that are stronger. It can also be age-hardened to make it more durable, able to take a brighter, more long lasting shine. Jewelry-makers and their customers appreciate the value and convenience of a brighter-white sterling silver that resists tarnish, everyday scratches and dents, and keeps on shining.

Once I was able to acquire a small butane torch (thank you hubby), I became completely enamored with Argentium. There are a couple of beginner mistakes I made: One, I tried fusing on a steel surface, instead of on a soldering or charcoal block….. I was curious to see what would happen – please, do yourself a favor, and get a charcoal block before attempting to fuse. You will save yourself a lot of heartache and frustration, because it simply won’t work on any other surface. Second: Argentium silver connections must be flush….if you are attempting to fuse, and the silver isn’t flowing, or the wire ends are pulling apart, turn off the torch, let the piece cool, then rework it so that the parts you wish to fuse are FLUSH! Then, retorch.   The Argentium must be touching…it can not fuse to itself if it’s not flush. So use that file! You can also use steel wire to hold parts together while fusing. Learning how much heat it takes, and when to pull the torch off of a piece…that all takes practice. There are tutorials and additional information on Rio Grande’s website, which is a great place to start! I am still learning – I have melted much wire and many bezel cups beyond recognition in my efforts, but when a project does turn out successfully, it is extremely rewarding!!!! 

I love being able to create my own balled end head pins, and bezel set gemstone cabochons, all without the additional paraphernalia needed to solder….now I’m not saying I won’t solder! That is most definitely the next thing on my list to learn – and if you have already gained skill in soldering, your interest in fusing may be nil. However, if you’re just picking up a torch and want to create some really cool stuff with silver, give Argentium silver a try!!! (Rio Grande offers to purchase your silver scraps, so don’t worry too much if you mess up a few times!!)  

Here are a couple pieces I have made using the fusing technique:

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Veterans Day Sale!

Happy Veteran’s Day my fans, friends, and family!!! In honor of this special day, I am running a SALE on EVERYTHING in my shop EXCEPT for Tammy’s Totes. (I can’t discount my mom’s purses) Visit my shop, and any item with a red tag is discounted! This sale ends Wednesday November 12 at 10 AM EST, so shop away!!!!
*this sale applies only to items on my website*
Shop here: www.zibbet.com/AztecaDesignsBoutique

Featuring New Designs

Ok, everyone! You all have been super quiet! I haven’t heard from anyone in forever! Please leave a comment sometime and let me know how its going!

Today’s post is all about my resounding success with my new patina solutions, and the integration of lampwork beads into my designs!

Patina: I ordered MIDAS patina solutions from Rio Grande jewelry supply in green for copper, brass, and bronze, and the black oxidizing solution for silver. I have had great success with them, and LOVE how they enhance and add to my designs! A little secret: I also use the black oxidizing solution on copper, and it gives it an awesome antiqued look after polishing – I’ve had lots of compliments on the color! These patinas have really given my rustic, earthy designs the boost they needed! 

Lampwork: Now you all know that as a general rule, I am partial to genuine and natural stones and gems – I almost solely design using the real deal. However, one day while browsing Facebook, I came across a lampwork bead auction by Julie DeFeo Designs. Her beads were created in fantastic southwest colors, perfectly matching my style! I couldn’t resist. I made earrings from all five pairs of beads, using my patina solutions as well, and they literally flew off the shelves! I am now in love with lampwork, and Julie’s lampwork in particular. I still use gems and stones in my work, but Julie’s beads will be a huge part of my designs now!

As always, feel free to shop my zibbet store at www.zibbet.com/AztecaDesignsBoutique, or find my business page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AztecaDesignsBoutique where I always have lots of photos of my work posted! You may also find an auction listing of mine in the group Artisan Designers Jewelry Buy and Sell on Facebook. You will need to request to become a member before you can bid on any items! Feel free to contact me for assistance, or if you have any questions!

 Enjoy a couple of photos of my most recent work:

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Artisan Crafted in the USA

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